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Which Parent Gets Custody of the Children While a California Divorce is Pending?

Posted by Furman & Zavatsky | Apr 04, 2019

During a divorce, there are many confusing issues to be resolved, but none are as important as the arrangements for child custody. Divorce typically affects the entire, especially where there are children involved. One of the primary requirements of divorce is deciding who will get custody of the kids, and when. This type of decision is negotiated and frequently takes a lot of time, which leads to many questions. For example, what happens with the kids during the actual divorce process?

Who Gets Custody of Children While California Divorce is Pending

Which parent will the children live with while all the details of the divorce are negotiated and finalized? While these questions are critically important and might seem overwhelming, the answer will depend on you and your spouse. Many divorces are amicable and you can negotiate temporary custody terms yourself. You and your spouse can agree on most things in the divorce.

While you will most likely have some disagreements about child support, spousal support, or property division, you can still approach other issues logically. In other words, you can find common ground which leads to solutions to some major divorce issues. Remember, you can both work together to make the divorce process as easy and painless as possible.

The upheaval of the divorce process and re-settling into life as two separate families can cause serious stress and confusion – especially when parents argue about how these events should unfold. It is therefore important to resolve temporary custody arrangements as soon as possible. These arrangements will stay in place until the divorce is finalized (at which time permanent custody orders are entered by the court).

If you or a loved one is contemplating divorce, it is important to begin making custody arrangements as soon as possible. Our  skilled attorneys can help you plan for these transitions in order to make a difficult time less painful for your family. Call our law firm to schedule your free consultation with an experienced California divorce and family law attorney.

Negotiating Temporary Child Custody Terms

If you are in this type of situation, you and your spouse need to attempt to negotiate an agreement on a temporary custody arrangement. If you have in place a permanent agreement, your temporary arrangement could just follow the same terms. Clearly, the solution is to find the best schedule for you and your children.  While you are negotiating a temporary custody arrangement during your divorce, you should take into consideration which parent:

  • Is available to spend most of their home time with the children
  • Is available to participate in their child's outside activities
  • Is closest to their child's school

Also, the child's preference should be considered as it should always be the goal of both parents to cause the least amount of disruption to their daily life. Child custody consists of two separate legal rights: the right to make legal decisions about the child (known as “custody”) and the right to exercise parenting time with the child (known as “parenting time” or “visitation”). Any parent who is requesting full custody in California has to be prepared to submit convincing evidence to the family court.

As stated above, the easiest way to make these arrangements is for both parents to agree to share in the making of legal decisions and a visitation schedule. If both parents agree, these arrangements can be entered as enforceable court orders that have legal effect until the court enters permanent custody orders at the end of the divorce case.

Of course, many parents are unable to agree, and the family courts of California are equipped to deal with this situation. In such a case, like in issues of domestic violence, either parent can ask the court for a hearing on the issue of temporary custody orders.  In order to get the court to help, you will need to file a Request for Order (FL-300).

This type of request is asking the court to issue a temporary custody order and will only last for the duration of your divorce. After the divorce is finalized, the terms of your permanent child custody agreement will go into effect. A Request for Order has to include the following information:

  • Explanation of the type of order you want the court to issue
  • The specific type of custody you are seeking
  • Declaration and evidence in support of your request

It's important to note your spouse will be given an opportunity to respond with their own declaration. After a review of the documents, the judge will set up two dates. The first for mediation and the second for court. If mediation was unsuccessful, you will have to present your case in court.

Court Review by Judge

The judge will take evidence. This is usually in the form of testimony from each parent, or documents relevant to the well-being of the child (such as school reports, or a police report indicating that domestic violence has occurred).

After reviewing this evidence, the judge will then enter orders as to which parent shall have the right to make legal decisions. The court can also order that the parents must make decisions together (“joint custody”), or that one parent has the right to make the decision in the event that the parents are unable to agree.

The judge will also order a visitation schedule. This visitation schedule may be equally allocated to each parent, but it does not have to be. If the court finds that either parent poses a danger to the children, that parent may be restricted to supervised visitation.

Visitation may also be limited to accommodate the logistics of long-distance parenting or a busy child's schedule. This is a particularly common issue when older children enter high school and participate in many extracurricular activities.

Why it is Important to Have Clear Custody Orders

Some people feel that temporary custody orders are not necessary during the interim period between filing for divorce and receiving final custody orders from the court. But it is important to remember that emotions run high during divorce, and parents are not thinking logically.

The Modesto Bee reports on one such case. After a mother was awarded sole custody, the father broke into her house with five other people in order to take their six-year-old child by force. Not all parents react so violently to adverse custody rulings.

Nonetheless, it is still important to have custody orders in place to reduce the chance of panic and confusion. In this case, the man's blatant violation of the existing supervised visitation orders will strengthen the mother's case for restricting his parental rights (or potentially severing them altogether).

Contact Us for Help Negotiating Child Custody During Divorce

For most people going through the difficult process of divorce, nothing is as important as ensuring the well-being of their children. You need the guidance of an experienced divorce attorney to ensure that your right to custody of your children is protected at every stage of the process.

Even after a divorce, ongoing child custody issues can put a parent's legal rights in jeopardy. Investing in legal advice at the start of a divorce can prevent some problems from occurring in the future.

Our experienced Los Angeles divorce and family law attorneys help parents work together to make custody arrangements that are in the best interests of their children. If the parents are unable to agree, our attorneys bring the case to a judge and fight hard for our clients' parenting rights. Contact us all (818) 528-3471 to schedule your free consultation today.

Furman & Zavatsky LLP
15821 Ventura Blvd #690
Encino, CA 91436

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Call a Los Angeles Divorce Lawyer

Family law disputes have the potential to have a significant impact on your quality of life and overall happiness. As a result, it is critical for you to protect your rights to the fullest extent possible when involved in a dispute related to family law. The lawyers of Furman & Zavatsky have the skill and experience to resolve your case as favorably as possible and provide compassionate and understanding legal counsel and representation. We also offer flat fee legal services for divorce and family law issues.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our Los Angeles divorce attorneys, call our office today at 818-528-3471. Read our blog on how to prepare for your first meeting with a divorce lawyer.

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